17 Reasons Why More Seniors Are Getting Divorced

There is an increase in the number of older couples who are going their separate ways later in life and opting for the ‘gray divorce.’ An increase in awareness of the importance of emotional well-being, longer life expectancies, and better technology are just some of the reasons behind this increase.

Growing Apart Over Time

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As we grow older, we evolve as our experiences change our perspectives and interests. For some, this can mean the shared viewpoints you had with your partner when you were younger can diminish, and you begin to grow apart. Good Therapy says this can leave you feeling “isolated, walled off, and unsure how to reach out to your partner.”

Changing Social Norms

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Divorce has become more and more acceptable over time, and the stigma surrounding leaving your spouse has diminished. Older people may see their friends and peers divorce, and this gives them the confidence to leave their own relationships.

Increased Focus on Personal Happiness

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With a better understanding of mental well-being, there has been a cultural shift toward recognizing the importance of personal happiness. This is encouraging older couples to reconsider their lives and whether their marriage brings them happiness.

Empty Nest Syndrome

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According to Verywell Family, people who experience empty nest syndrome may have “feelings of loss, sadness, anxiety, grief, irritability, and fear.” When children leave home, it can also expose underlying marital issues that were previously overshadowed by parenting responsibilities.

Better Health and Vitality

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Advancements in healthcare and better knowledge of healthy lifestyles mean seniors are often living healthier and fuller lives, and as a result, they feel capable of starting new chapters. This means they’re exploring new relationships and leaving unhappy marriages.

Technological Advancements

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Social media is providing older people with the opportunity to connect with old friends and people with similar interests, and this can lead to pursuing new friendships and relationships. On top of this, online dating has become increasingly popular among seniors.

Financial Independence

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According to Kiplinger, “As couples approach retirement, they are more prone to argue about how much to spend, how much to save, how to invest and how much financial help to offer their adult children.” It’s also at this time of life that many people feel they are financially stable enough to support themselves independently after a divorce.

Increased Mobility

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Easy access to global travel gives older people the ability to travel, relocate, or engage in diverse activities. This is enabling them to broaden their horizons, with exposure to different cultures, communities, and experiences inspiring them to reconsider their current lifestyle and relationships.

Legacy and Inheritance Concerns

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If couples can’t agree on their finances or estate plans, individuals may leave the relationship to ensure that their assets and legacies are distributed according to their wishes. Couples who have blended families and step-relationships have even more complex situations, and an individual may leave this relationship to simplify legal matters.

Late Life Self-Discovery

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According to BetterUp, “Self-discovery is the process of understanding your true self: your values, your needs and wants, even what food you like and dislike.” As older couples enter retirement, they have more time to engage in new hobbies, educational pursuits, or volunteer work, which can lead to personal development and a desire for change.

Social Circle Influences

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With more time to enjoy hobbies and social activities, senior people may be introduced to new social circles and, therefore, potential romantic interests. Existing or new social circles may also influence older people to feel comfortable leaving their partner, as others around them show they are happily divorced.

Improved Support Systems

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Older people now have better access to specialized support groups and counseling services than in previous times, and these can provide assistance and guidance for those considering divorce. This increased support most likely comes from an improvement in the recognition of emotional needs and well-being.

Dissatisfaction with Retirement Life

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Transitioning from full-time work to retirement can be a challenge and often doesn’t meet people’s expectations. The struggle with a lack of purpose or direction can strain a marriage and lead to a reevaluation of the relationship.

Longer Life Expectancies

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America’s life expectancy is increasing, and according to Changing America, “There were 89,739 centenarians living in the United States in 2021, nearly twice as many as there were 20 years ago.” With the prospect of a long life past retirement, many seniors are reevaluating their current relationships and happiness.

Unresolved Long-Term Issues

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Over time, long-standing issues can become intolerable, and these prompt seniors to reconsider their compatibility. Retirement and the increased time together mean these unresolved issues often become more important to individuals.

Seeking Companionship Elsewhere

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Older people often seek a better level of emotional connection and companionship if their current relationship isn’t meeting their needs. New relationships can provide the joy, intimacy, and understanding that their current partnership doesn’t.

Desire for Autonomy

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Living longer and with a better understanding of physical and mental well-being, older people are valuing their independence more. Divorce is seen as a way to pursue individual interests, hobbies, or travel that maybe a partner isn’t interested in.

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